[Vision2020] The Friday Letter

Ron Force rforce2003 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 3 08:51:49 PST 2010

December 03, 2010

Dear Friends, 

         The future -- for many it's a regular point of discussion. But here at 
the    University of Idaho, it's a mission. 

         As Idaho's flagship higher education institution, we seek to prepare 
current    generations for future success. 

         We often talk about the many benefits of our research and  education. 
We talk    about helping communities improve their sustainability, their health  
and their economic standing. We do this well, and are getting    better at it as 
a 21st century land-grant research university.  However, our work is measured, 
at the end of the day, by the success of    each individual student. 

         As our world has changed, post-secondary education has  become a     
near-requirement for financial success. Increasingly, it is the  game-changer -- 
between poverty and the middle class, between the     middle class and upward 

         A recent study  by     Georgetown University demonstrates this 
dramatically. In 1970, only  26 percent of middle class America had 
post-secondary education      or training. By 2007, that percentage had nearly 
doubled. Similarly,  in 1970, 44 percent of the economic upper class had some 
form      of post-secondary work. By 2007, this number had jumped to 81  

         More and more, the world in which we live is creating jobs  that demand 
a broad   perspective and advanced education. Unfortunately, this coincides with  
the state of Idaho experiencing a decline in students seeking   post-secondary 
education and training. 

         A recent study  by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher 
Education reported  that the likelihood of an Idaho student     attending 
college by the age of 19 has dropped from 40 percent in the  early 1990s to 36 
percent in 2008. The national average     increased by eight percent. 

         Though several studies have ranked Idaho as a top state for  business     
development, this is an unsustainable trend without workforce  development. New 
industries require an educated workforce. Idaho ranks     41st in the nation for 
18 to 24 year olds enrolled in higher  education and only 11 states had fewer 
graduates per capita. New     businesses, therefore, are more likely to import 
employees for higher  paying jobs. The loss of income and opportunity for 
Idahoans     because of a lack of education will run into the billions based on  
the lost earning potential alone. 

         Idaho's Career Information System is signaling that the top  10 career 
fields in     Idaho's near future (2016) all require post-secondary education or  
training. It's the University of Idaho's mission to improve the      future by 
meeting these needs. We do so through education, research  and outreach...and in 
the process by encouraging students to      invest in themselves. We are proud 
to partner with the Albertson's  Foundation and others to ensure our state's 
people understand the      value and opportunity of higher education. And we are 
proud to have  the highest graduation rate in the state. 

         Our state legislature will begin discussing the value of the  state's 
investment     in higher education in early January. Economic conditions will 
once  again force them to make difficult choices on top of reductions      from 
previous years. I encourage you to fully consider what higher  education means 
to our state's future and to share your ideas and      opinions with your 
elected representatives. 

         Our faculty, staff and students are working every day to build a bright 
future     of Idaho. We appreciate your support. 

M.  Duane Nellis

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